The Two Naturesby Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
(The following article first appeared in Vol. 1, No. 5 of The Christian magazine in March 1926.)
A great number of people who have believed in the Lord Jesus as their Savior have discovered a new experience soon after they have believed: in their hearts it seems that there are two natures. These two natures are incompatible with each other. Of the two natures, one is evil and the other is good. Sometimes, when the good nature gains the upper hand, a person becomes very loving, patient, good, and meek. Sometimes, when the evil nature prevails, the person becomes very jealous, ill-tempered, wicked, and stubborn. Those believers who are under this kind of condition experience sudden ups and downs in their life. Sometimes, their spiritual condition seems to be on the mountaintop; at other times, it seems to be in the deep valley. This kind of spiritual life is also like the waves of the sea, at times high and at times low. Believers under this kind of condition are bewildered! Why is there the joy? Why is there the sorrow? Why do we sometimes love a certain person that much and have the ability to tolerate so much of others' ridicule? Why at other times are we so void of love and so impatient? When such a person is at his spiritual peak, he experiences unspeakable joy and peace. When he is spiritually low, he is filled with sorrow and depression. Before such a person believed in the Lord, he did not have much feeling even when he sinned. But now it is very different. He may speak a wrong word or commit a wrong act by accident. Formerly, these things would have been considered trivial, and the conscience would not have been bothered at all. But now, he falls into much self-condemnation. Although no one condemns him, he rebukes himself for doing these things.
Such self-condemnation is quite unbearable. It causes the believer to feel ashamed and embarrassed, to feel guilty and condemned. Only after he finds out that the Lord has fully forgiven his sins and he has recovered his spiritual joy can he feel happy again. However, this kind of happiness does not last long. Those believers who remain on this level of life soon find themselves caused to stumble again and their previous joy once more lost! Soon after, they find themselves committing the same sin they committed before! It seems so natural to fall into sin. It is as if a power from within has overpowered them in an instant; they are led uncontrollably to speak the wrong words and do the wrong things. Under such a condition, the believers invariably become penitent. They invariably make many vows and resolutions before the Lord. They set up for themselves many ordinances to bind themselves, in the hope that they will not commit the same error again. At the same time, they ask for the cleansing of the Lord's blood afresh and seek for another filling of the Holy Spirit by the Lord. After this, they seem quite satisfied and think that their last sin is behind them, that from now on they are on their way to holiness. However, the fact always turns out contrary to their wish. Soon, perhaps a few days later, they fail again! Once more they fall into deep remorse, bemoaning their own failure and feeling sorrowful at heart; their hopes for holiness have been dashed. All their resolutions and regulations cannot help them. Although they may receive the Lord's forgiveness after this, it becomes difficult for them to believe that they can keep themselves from sinning again. Although they still pray that the Lord would keep them, their heart is full of doubts. They begin to wonder if the Lord can really keep them from sin.
Young believers frequently fall into this kind of experience. Almost daily they come under self-condemnation and sorrow. Sometimes they may condemn themselves several times a day or even several dozen times a day. Such a life of wandering in the wilderness causes them to doubt even their own regeneration. Does not the Scripture say, "He cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God" (1 John 3:9)? They think that if they always sin, it probably means that they are not yet regenerated! The despondency and disappointment at such times are difficult to express even with their tears.
Since these ones have experienced much failure, they make up their mind to be on the alert, to resolve to fight the last battle against the indwelling sin. They remind themselves to watch out for their former weaknesses. They try purposely to improve themselves in areas where they constantly failed before. They resolve as best they can to put off "the sin which so easily entangles us" (Heb. 12:1). This of course affords them much help in their outward conduct. Yet the inward activities of sin continue as before; there is no quelling of its energy. In the end, they fail again. Consider the example of the temper. After a believer realizes that his besetting sin is his quick temper, he will try to control himself in everything. This may work with lesser irritations; it may work in one or two temptations. However, though he may hold back his temper temporarily, further irritations from others will cause his temper to break loose. He may succeed a few times, but as soon as he becomes a little careless, he loses his temper again. At the time of the temptation, he may experience much conflict in his heart. On the one hand, he thinks that he should not lose his temper and should be gentle. On the other hand, he considers the unreasonableness and offense of the other party, and he feels it necessary to vindicate himself by punishing such behavior. This kind of conflict is found commonly among believers. Unfortunately, the result is often failure rather than victory. Once they exhaust their patience, they fail again. A genuinely regenerated person often goes through this kind of experience at the beginning of his Christian life. We do not know how many tears are shed because of defeat in this conflict!
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